The end of our first week in Kenya was marked with a street photography exhibition called Stories from our Cities in which photographers from K-Youth Media (an NGO that trains young people to be community reporters) and the University of Brighton exhibited their work on the walls of the Babadogo Road in Ruaraka. The exhibition lasted for a about 4 hours……mainly because our driver was late coming to pick us up. This was probably too long because some of the students, girls especially but not only, were attracting attention that made them feel a little uncomfortable. I think they were pleased when the bus finally arrived.
That said the exhibition overall was successful. There were some from the community who questioned why we were there and this was a fair point but when either I or Fredrick from K-Youth Media discussed the purpose of the collaboration between youth most were happy. One or two, were wary and one or two other were clearly spaced out on Miraa or some other form of herb! There was never any danger to anyone and this was the first time students from CM4K have come face to face with the stark realities of poverty in the developing world. It was a shock to some of them and several started to discuss their feelings with me. I am glad they started to think critically and question why? It is so easy to fall into the viewpoint that Kenya is just a place of smiling happy faces and simple generosity and feel comfortable with that view. Just to put anyone’s mind at rest, the exhibition was not held in any of the areas we are advised not to go but there was enough poverty and deprivation to give students who want to interpret the harsh realities of the world realistically to do so!
The students from CM4K and K-Youth Media were interviewing each other and getting the photographers to comment on their picture – thoughts, composition, intended message, etc. Lots of content was captured and I witnessed collaborative discussions taking place all over the place. I was most pleased with this because it signified a successful collaboration.
The next day was meant to be a critical reflection on the exhibition between both sets of young practitioners in the K-Youth Media offices. Unfortunately, our driver was arrested…….again…..for not having a music liscence! In the middle of rush hour…..I mean I ask you…..really? The Kenyan Police certainly take copyright laws & public performance in a 14 seater mini-bus very seriously! Or were they just after pocketing more cash from this poor man?
The upshot of this was that when he finally arrived it was too late for the reflective discussions. This was a big shame but I am going to try and organise a video-conference when we return because I think everyone will benefit from it. That meant there was some time for a little relaxation and a football game started downstairs for a while. Eventually Alex & I called everyone together to pack and plan for our departure from Nairobi and our collaborations with Rongo University in Migori County. We leave today in an hour or so and internet connectivity will be hot and miss so dear readers you have been warned 😉